As Ontario’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpasses 11,000, health officials released revised projections about the spread of the illness in the province.
In a news conference at Queen’s Park on Monday, Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, Adalsteinn Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, shared the province’s update on COVID-19.
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Adalsteinn Brown said officials are looking at two distinct COVID-19 situations, how it spreads through the general community and in the province’s long-term care facilities and in other congregate settings, like shelters, where the number of cases and deaths are increasing considerably every day.
Brown says initially, health officials believed the peak of new cases in the community was going to occur in May, however, due to public health interventions, including widespread adherence to social and physical distancing, he says Ontario’s peak in community cases is happening now.
Initially, officials projected there were going to be 80,000 community cases by the end of April; however, this number is now much lower and expected to hit somewhere around 20,000. As a result, Ontario is “trending better than the best case scenario” that was detailed in modelling released back on April 3.
“We’re at peak in the community, but still in that accelerating upswing of the curve in long-term care,” said Brown.
“We have to continue at this point to implement the enhanced public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve,” said Dr. Yaffe. “We are probably at the peak but the peak is not just at one point in time the peak can last a bit and we don’t want it to go up again.”
Officials said outbreaks in long-term care and congregate settings continue to be a “major concern” and there are actions underway to protect the vulnerable people living in these settings.
During Monday’s announcement, it was revealed Ontario’s mortality rate is down, as only 584 deaths have been reported to date, which is significantly lower from the province’s initial models, which called for 1,600 deaths by April 30 and a maximum case count of 80,000.
The number of hospitalizations is also down as the initial modelling said that by this past Saturday, there would be 1,200 people in ICU beds as a “best case scenario,” potentially overwhelming the healthcare system. Instead, there are currently 247 people with the virus in ICU units.
And while public health measures so far have made a significant difference, Dr. Yaffe says additional measures will be implemented for both long-term care homes and in the public.
They are as follows:
In long-term care homes:
- The implementation of the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes, which includes: aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance; managing outbreaks and spread of the disease; growing the heroic long-term care workforce.
- Issued an emergency order directing long-term care employers to ensure their employees, including registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, kitchen and cleaning staff only work in one long-term care home. • Enhanced guidance on personal protective equipment requiring staff to always wear appropriate protection, supporting by priority distribution to homes.
- Enhanced guidance on personal protective equipment requiring staff to always wear appropriate protection, supporting by priority distribution to homes.
In the public:
- Continued implementation of enhanced public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve
- Extended declaration of the state of emergency to at least May 12 to support existing public health measures in place, including restricting social gatherings to five people and the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor recreational amenities, public places and bars and restaurants, except those that provide takeout and delivery.
- Implementing the next phase of the testing strategy to expand testing to include several priority groups to identify and contain new cases, especially among vulnerable populations.
- Extending actions taken in long-term care homes to retirement homes and other congregate settings, including group homes and homeless shelters, to further protect vulnerable populations.
“Public should continue to stay home and maintain physical distancing to ensure the province continues to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. These actions are making a difference and people need to stay the course and stay strong in order to save lives,” the projection report said.
The revised projections come as 606 new cases were reported on Monday, bringing Ontario’s total number of cases to 11,184, including at least 584 deaths and 5,515 resolved cases. Just over 11% of all cases, or 1,267, are health-care workers.
The province says it’s processed 8,743 test samples since its last update, and 3,799 people are still awaiting results. Over 80o people are currently battling COVID-19 in hospital, while 247 of those patients are in intensive care units. Of those, 193 are on ventilators.